Martin Dobson, a true Claret legend for a long weekend

28 April 2017 08:13
Martin Dobson - a true Turf Moor legend.
Martin Dobson fondly known as "Dobbo" was a class act, both on and off the field of play. Martin was calmness personified, composed on the ball, a natural born leader and ideally suited to be the team captain when playing at the heart of the defence.

It could have all turned out so different for the young Dobson as he was released by Bolton Wanderers age 19 and his world must have crashed around him.
Dobbo's father however had other ideas and intervened, somehow persuading the then Burnley manager Harry Potts to give his son a second chance with the Clarets. That fatherly intervention led to Martin being with Burnley Football Club, on and off for a span of over 40 years.
 Martin Dobson played almost 500 games for the Clarets in 14 seasons, making many significant contributions across the divisions as a player and later in the back room staff. He also became what many thought would be the last Burnley player ever to gain a full England cap. 
Dobson stood at 5 foot 10 inches tall and was born on 14th February 1948 in Rishton, near Blackburn. He was signed as an apprentice at Bolton Wanderers and following his release by the Trotters in 1967, he quickly impressed at Burnley and after a short stint in the reserves played his first game as a substitute centre forward.
 Dobson replaced the ferocious Scot, Andy Lochhead against Wolves on 23rd September 1967.  He replaced Andy again in the next home game against a George Best inspired Manchester United and made a truly memorable start, scoring the winner in a famous 2-1 victory.
Andy Lochhead remained first pick and Dobson played only sporadically, but in the 1969/70 season he played 44 games following a shift into midfield and then to the centre of the defence, scoring 11 goals.
At the start of the 1970/71 season when Jimmy Adamson predicted his young lions to become "The Team of the 70's" he broke a leg in a pre-season friendly at Middlesbrough. Dobson didn’t play again until November, by which time relegation was on the cards for the Clarets.
Dobson managed just 26 games that season, scoring only once as the Clarets dropped to the old Second Division for the first time in 24 years.
Bob Lord had demolished the Brunshaw Road Stand and rebuilt the Cricket Field Stand with heated Directors' seats that ultimately proved to be too expensive to use.
Burnley ended up with a three sided ground, with a large empty space and much lower crowd capacity, bringing a reduced income and the subsequent relegation meant the proposed new build was shelved and put on hold.
The following season Burnley sold team captain Dave Merrington to Southampton and Martin took his place as captain of the first team, playing 46 games whilst recovering his scoring touch, bagging 9 goals.
The season was mixed result wise until Dobson was shuffled into midfield and after that the Clarets did not drop another point in the remaining games of the campaign.
In 1972/73 this good form continued and Dobson led the Clarets to promotion back to the First Division, to an FA Cup Semi-Final and a sixth place finish, only one point short of a spot in the UEFA Cup.
During that season Martin had been almost an ever present for the Clarets. One Burnley game he missed was when he made his England debut in a 0-0 draw away against Portugal. He eventually won 5 England caps and was included in 11 full England squads.
Martin was now the club idol and Burnley fans thought the good times had returned for good! However, the new stand was finally being built to be named the Bob Lord Stand and just three games into the 1974/75 season, Dobson was the player who had to be sold to pay for it.
He moved to Everton for £300,000, then a record breaking transfer fee and played for the Toffees for 5 years, largely as an ever present, making 230 appearances and scoring 40 goals and played 5 games for Everton in European competition.
Revered by Evertonians, Martin was hugely skilful and displayed an ability to drift forward to create openings and score goals out of nothing, and that is how he is fondly remembered by many at Goodison Park.
The magnet that is Burnley Football Club drew him back and the Clarets paid £100K to bring him home to Turf Moor in May 1979. Unfortunately, an injury meant he played only 29 games in the 1979/80 season and Burnley dropped into the old third division for the first time.
Two years later he was again team captain and the Clarets gained promotion under manager Brian Miller, with Dobson playing as a sweeper behind a back four which included the teenage full back Brian Laws.
Unfortunately relegation followed a year later and John Bond became manager to begin a tumultuous period in the history of Burnley Football Cub. Bond and Dobson could not get along and Dobbo was stripped of the captaincy and left out of the side, but was still blamed by Bond for the first defeat of the season by Hull City.
Told he had an attitude problem Dobbo actually replied,  “You haven’t even got the guts to tell me I’m dropped” and then told Bond he had destroyed the club by criticising all the young players, shutting down the youth programme and lauding the old Manchester City players he had brought to the club.
Even so, Dobson was still a regular in the side until March 1984 when he got an offer to manage Bury. Martin stayed at Gigg Lane in the manager's chair for 5 years, gaining a promotion in 1985, the same season Burnley were relegated.
Burnley played Bury in the League Cup and in the second leg at Gigg Lane, Dobson named himself as the substitute and received an unbelievable reception from Burnley fans when he came onto the field.
He went on to spend 4 months at Bristol Rovers and then enjoyed 12 years at Bolton Wanderers, managing their Youth Academy and he was also involved in scouting.  The magnet pulled once again and Burnley Football Club brought him back as their Director of Youth Development from September 2008, helping develop youngsters including Kyle Lafferty, Chris McCann and Jay Rodriguez.
His efforts undoubtedly contributed to Burnley returning to the top flight of English football when the Clarets entered the Premier League under the auspices of Owen Coyle. Dobbo  was one of the few left at Turf Moor when Owen Coyle quickly departed for Bolton Wanderers, taking everyone in the backroom team except the tea lady, along with him.
Dobson stayed at Burnley following Coyle's departure and worked for a while with replacement manager and former playing colleague Brian Laws. When Laws left, Dobbo's contract wasn’t renewed by Eddie Howe,  who brought in his own backroom team.
Martin Dobson went on to scout for Ipswich Town and Leicester City. He did surveys for the ONS, worked driving new cars to the Isle of Man, learned to play the saxophone and helps look after his grandchildren.
Never one to blow his own horn, Martin Dobson is bettered by only six players in the club's entire history to  have played more games for Burnley Football Club and the club owes him so much for his vaunted playing career and his magnificent work behind the scenes.
When you look at the Bob Lord Stand, it is worth remembering it was the sale of Martin Dobson to Everton that funded it.
In an age where the word "legend" is chucked about with reckless abandonment, Martin Dobson has earned the right to be called a true legend of Burnley Football Club.
This appreciation of Martin Dobson was conceived and written by regular Clarets Mad contributor "Old Colner". (TEC).

Source: DSG


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